News / Africa

Nigeria Releases Women, Children Held as Boko Haram

Heather Murdock
Nigerian officials say they were demonstrating a commitment to peace talks when the country's security forces released dozens of women and children held in connection with the Boko Haram insurgency. As Nigeria's military continues to hunt down Boko Haram members, though, some analysts say it is too late for dialogue.
Zari Muhammad is free now after being arrested with her husband last year. Her sons had been accused of being Boko Haram members. Now both of her sons are dead and she does not know where her husband is.
Other newly freed prisoners include teenage boys who claim to have taken small amounts of cash to spy or store weapons for Boko Haram, insurgents who say they want to impose Islamic law and secure the release of imprisoned members.

Renewed calls for peace

Asking her questions is Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima, a man who repeatedly has called for dialogue between insurgents and the government. He said the release of these prisoners will pave the way toward peace talks, and he calls on Boko Haram to lay down their weapons.
“The federal government has shown its spirit, its commitment to the whole project by releasing these ladies and kids. And we believe that one good turn always deserves another. We believe it is high time the organization should allow peace to reign in this part of the world,” said Shettima.

Other Nigerian leaders are less enthusiastic about offering pardons - which include cash and often job training - to anyone connected with Boko Haram. The Christian Association Nigeria, known as CAN, repeatedly has rejected calls for peace talks, saying the insurgency should be crushed with military force.
CAN said Thursday its members still are being killed and churches are still being burned in the northeast, where a state of emergency was declared in three states on May 14. Thousands of troops were deployed to the region.

Battle continues

Some analysts say they support the idea of peace talks, and hail the government for releasing prisoners they think may not have been guilty in the first place. Hussaini Abdu, who heads the anti-poverty organization ActionAid in Abuja, said, “Innocent people have actually also been arrested. The bulk of the Boko Haram people are young people ranging from the age of about 15, 16 to about 25. So when you find any young man of that age, you arrest him whether he is Boko Haram or no Boko Haram. Many times there is not even evidence to show they are Boko Haram.”

He said the government has been promising to release women and children for years, but now with the northern battle raging, it may be too late to make a difference.
“The people who are doing the fighting wouldn’t notice because they are also scattered, some of them have been killed. They wouldn’t notice. It’s good for these women who have been unjustifiably detained to be released, but the release is coming at a time that it’s not going to make any major impact,” said Abdu.
The Nigerian military says it has captured hundreds of Boko Haram fighters in more than two weeks of fighting, and it says it has killed dozens of others while securing towns and destroying training camps. In a video released Wednesday to the French news wire service, Abubakar Shekau, the man believed to lead Boko Haram, refuted the military claims, saying Nigerian soldiers were fleeing his fighters.
Between blocked communications lines and barricaded roads, however, no independent observers are on the ground and as of now, reporters can not verify claims of either the military or the militants.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs